The 10-Minute Resume Cheat Sheet

January 26, 2017

Using the below "cheat sheet" as a guide, you can turn a bleary resume into a robust, purposeful, powerful document. Following this cheat sheet's tips will not only clarify what type of information to include in the various parts of your resume, but also tell why you need to include it and how. Here are the key elements to consider when writing or rewriting your resume.


Visual Layout and Design

*Make your resume easy to read. According to a recent study, recruiters initially spend an average of nine seconds on a resume. So make those nine seconds count.

*Use white space and a balance of prose and bullets to lead the eye through the document.

*Bullet your achievements.

*Avoid big blocks of text and long bulleted lists.

*Use short one- to two-line sentences.


Contact Information

*Make your name bigger than the main font but not the biggest font on the page.

*Put your name at the top, regardless of whether you center it or right or left align it.

*Place your contact information in the document body, not in the header or footer.

*Make sure your email address is a live link.

*If you went to a reputable or well-networked school, and are still just a few years out of school, use your .edu email address.

*Use one phone number (ideally a mobile phone number so you can accept texts).

*Use live social media icons or actual URL links to relevant social media pages.


Summary Section

*Include a "job target" heading in the largest page font.

*Use value statements indicating how your successes will add value to the prospective role.  


Core Competencies

*Employ keywords from target job descriptions that reflect relevant accomplishments.

*Use topical nouns instead of verbs to highlight your skills and increase recognition by applicant tracking system (ATS) software.


Work Experience

*When writing your employment history, ask yourself the following: How do I know I did a good job? What did that good job look like? Why did it matter that I took this action?

*Describe your achievements using verb-based language in a way that shows you’ve made money, saved money, streamlined a process, and/or positively contributed to the culture of the organization.

*Strike the right balance between history and forward-focused relevancy. It’s important to position yourself as being able to adapt to new challenges.

*Focus on the last 10 to 15 years of employment history. If you go back longer than 15 years, you might be unnecessarily dating yourself.


Graphics, Text Boxes, and Tables

*Ensure the information in text boxes, graphs, or tables are written into the content of the resume (to make sure that they show up no matter how your resume is being read).

*Use Microsoft Borders and Shading function for borders and color variations. 



*Don't forget to include certification and trainings if/when relevant. 

*Be consistent when including or excluding information such as dates for degrees.

*GPAs matter in financial industries, so make sure to include them if you're applying for a finance-related position.

by Lisa Rangel

chicago river
  • “Chicago Legal Search has assisted us with our in-house attorney searches. Their recruiters quickly presented resumes of several exceptional candidates and assisted us throughout the hiring process. The attorneys we hired have been great additions to our legal department. We are extremely pleased with the results of our recruiting relationship with Chicago Legal Search.”

    Mary E. Doohan, Group Counsel

    Morton International, Inc., Morton Salt